What Are Silicones?
Silicones are man-made polymers made up of silicon, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. Silicon, often confused with silicone, is one of the most abundant elements on the planet, just after oxygen. They are found in one-quarter of the Earth’s crust, typically in rocks, sands, clay, and soil. The process of making silicone requires complex and costly techniques, contributing to its premium price. While silicones are deduced from a natural source, they undergo chemical processing, that is why they are classified as synthetic.
The birth of silicones dated long ago in the 1930s. Today, this ultra-resilient compound is widely used in skincare, hair products, breast implants, lubricants, and many others. Silicones are recognized for their high-temperature resistance, lubricating properties, super sealing ability, and are weather-proof.
You might be flabbergastered at this point; why would I put this rubbery thing on my hair? Think about silicones’ impressive list of qualities and it will all make perfect sense. Heat resistance, ultra-violet protection, super sealing; aren’t these what we are looking for when it comes to protecting your hair?
Silicone in Haircare
The principal role of silicones in hair products is to provide a protective coating for your manes. This coating does a few miracles: It seals your hair cuticles, preventing natural moisture from seeping out. At the same time, this coating combats frizzy hair as it prevents humidity from sneaking in. The lubricating properties of silicones also act as a lubricant, reducing tangles, making hair smooth and soft, and adding shine. Last but not least, it is an excellent heat repellent. Its heat-resistant qualities shield your strands from intense styling tools such as blow dryers, straight irons, and curling irons.
With all the advantages of silicones, you might be asking: What’s the hype about silicone-free products? In recent years, the hair care industry has been swarmed with products calling out “silicone-free”. This labeling move implies that silicones are perhaps not so good for us. So, what’s the deal? Well, there are two camps over the silicone controversy. With the trend of going natural, using synthetic ingredients is probably against their going-natural philosophy. But here’s the thing. While products containing natural ingredients are grabbing the due attention, silicones are working hard behind the scenes. This amazing polymer has gathered many experts’ attention owing to its superior qualities and many studies have shown that silicones are non-toxic and perfectly safe on hair, health, and environment. The real issue with silicone haircare is about choosing the hair products with the right silicones.
There are many different kinds of silicones. While they all have similar properties, some are known to be more efficacious in hair care than others. For example, dimethicone copolyol, cyclomethicone, and cyclopentasiloxane are esteemed silicones found in hair products.
Dimethicone copolyol is lightweight and does not contribute to build up. This water-soluble silicone dissolves in water and washes out easily. Cyclomethicone provides a silky-smooth hair texture; meaning lustrous tangle-free hair. It is an evaporating silicone; it won’t stay put on your strands, thus no build up. Cyclopentasiloxane, which is a silicone derivative, is commonly combined with heavier silicones to ease application. It evaporates and is less in viscosity. Cyclopentasiloxane possesses excellent lubricating properties and prevents water loss.